Saves in 46 days…Jung Hae-young back on track, confident of second-half performance

Kia Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook made a defensive call in the top of the ninth inning against the Gwangju Samsung Lions on April 12. With a 3-2, one-run lead, bullpen pitcher Jang Hyun-sik had given up two hits and a walk and was facing a bases-loaded situation, so he brought in Jung Hae-young (21).

It was an unexpected move. Jung was the team’s closer with 66 saves in the 2021-2022 season, but this year he struggled to pitch confidently due to a significant drop in velocity and was left off the roster for the month of June. After returning to the first team on June 2, he pitched three consecutive scoreless games, but they were all losses or blowouts.

Jeong Jung-young took the mound with the game on the line, needing just one hit to turn it around. The pressure was on as KIA was on the verge of a six-game winning streak. If he gave up a hit or a walk, his confidence would drop even further. Kim Jong-guk would have been criticized for his decision.안전놀이터

The result was a win for KIA. Jung Hae-young preserved the lead by inducing a grounder to second base on a two-pitch forkball against Samsung’s Kim Dong-jin. It was his seventh save of the season. It was his first save in 46 days since May 27 against the LG Twins.

Jeong spent the month of June overhauling his pitching mechanics. She was diagnosed with a late lower body center of gravity shift and a relatively fast arm swing by Seo Jae-heng, who has coached her since her rookie year. Jung has since spent a lot of time working on her lower body balance. After joining the Futures (second team), he was coached by Son Seung-rak, a former KBO League closer. While maintaining a pitching orientation that utilized his lower body, he added training to strengthen his hip muscles.

In the process, Jung regained the original velocity of his four-seam fastball. His fastball reached 147 km/h in his comeback game against the LG Twins in Jamsil on April 2. His fastball reached 141 km/h on May 28 against LG Electronics in Gwangju before he was removed from the first team roster.

After falling to ninth place at one point, KIA showed its determination to make a comeback by trading catcher Kim Tae-gun at the end of the first half to bolster its outfield and replacing two foreign pitchers. Even Jung Hae-young returned to his position (closer), further solidifying the back door.

“In the end, (Jung) Hae-young needs to close the back door so that our team can be stronger,” said coach Kim Jong-kook. “My brothers (teammates) did their part while I was away from the first team. Now I have to take the burden off them. I will protect the team’s victory. I will also make a lot of saves.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *